Where Do We Eat?

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Where Do We Eat?

Over the last several years, I have watched the interest in gluten free foods increase. So, where do we eat? Whether it is because yourself or family member has been diagnosed with Celiac, or an individual has decided for personal reasons to go gluten-free, the Gluten-free diet trend has been on the rise.

When my daughter was first diagnosed in 2009, gluten free foods were limited in our local grocery store and most purchases needed to be made in Health Food stores. Now, more and more grocery stores are incorporating areas of their store as a “Health Food’ section, providing gluten and allergy free foods along with specific foods for other diet restrictions as well.

Along the way, restaurants have been jumping on the band wagon, offering gluten-free menus and most recently, hotels have begun to include gluten-free itemson their menus and in their dining rooms. This is a wonderful advancement and it is owed to the push for increased awareness by individuals and associations all over the world.

Even with the increasing gluten free items on menus, individuals who live with Celiac and food allergies still run into difficulty when trying to find somewhere to dine out. Preparing meals with these diet restrictions present a problem to any chef of any restaurant. Needless to say, we do not enjoy the pleasures of restaurant dining as often as we would like. Outback Steakhouse seems to be the one restaurant in our area that meets the needs of a gluten and food allergy diet. When we arrive, we make sure to share our diet restrictions with the hostess, and shortly after we are seated and receive our menus, we are visited by the manager. He joins us at our table and talks with our daughter about her diet restrictions. He then points out the menu items that meet her needs. Of course, we bring along vegan butter, almond milk, and any condiments we expect she will need. But it is refreshing for her to be able to enjoy a meal away from home.

I foresee, as with gluten-free, food allergens will also be eliminated from meals and eventually offered at restaurants as well as hotel chain kitchens. This is still all very new to individuals who are not living with it on a daily basis, but we hope to someday be able to visit a restaurant and choose a meal from a menu without concern of allergens or cross contamination.

I realize that different restaurants, depending on their location, may offer a gluten-free menu that we don’t have in our area. If you have a restaurant close by you that offers a menu of gluten-free items, please share their information in the comments section.

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
  1. SJ says:

    It’s not publised very well in the UK but I’ve always been able to say to the waiter or waitress what my requirements are and the chef will always make a personal visit and advise what you can and cannot eat. The awareness is getting better but it still has a way to go.

  2. swanna k says:

    Hi Mary! I just recently started a gluten free diet after finding out the majority of autoimmune hypothyroid patients are gluten intolerant. I was diagnosed hypo in 08. I live in Welcome NC and Scottie referred me to your page. The manager at the Japanese restaurant Kimonos here in Welcome was very helpful about this subject. His niece, only 3 yrs old has celiacs and his family eats there all the time. He says he has trained all his cooks and cooks everything separate to avoid cross contamination. He was very helpful about what foods there were gluten free. So now I order hibachi chicken with mixed vegetables GF of course NO SAUCE and ginger dressing for dipping. No soup, no sweet carrots, and just personal preference I don’t get steamed white rice either. They do make up for it though with extra meat and veggies. And I get a salad with ginger dressing as well. I googled last week “Gluten free restaurants in Winston Salem” and I was actually surprised how many were listed. Ate a delicious salmon steak at Firebirds last weekend. They have their own menu.

    So the Outback Steak house you mentioned. Would this be the one in Winston Salem?

    • Swanna, nice to meet you 🙂 The Outback we go to is actually in Johnson City, TN. The Japanese restaurant you have described sounds wonderful and is making me hungry. Next time we are over that way, we may have to check it out.
      How is ol’ Scottie, by the way? He is quite the character, isn’t he LOL.

      • swanna k says:

        I wonder if the one in Winston would be just as accommodating? Sometimes I feel like I’m being a pain in the butt having special dietary needs. Scottie seems to be doing well. We keep in touch on Facebook. He was bragging on you yesterday about what a great cook you are. =)

        • Swanna, I would imagine that the one in Winston would be. We have been to two different chain locations and both have been just as good. Recently, I spoke to a manager of Red Lobster, and he informed me that he had just returned from a national manager’s meeting where they had discussions regarding a gluten and allergy free menu. He told me that we should see that coming out in their restaurants before the end of the year.
          Scottie’s so crazy! And yes, I have cooked him many of meal during race season LOL. I have to say…I have never seen Scottie have a problem with eating 🙂 We really enjoyed being able to see him last year. I was hoping we could do that again this year, but I hear he is leaving? What an adventurous life he leads!

  3. Most of the chain restaurants here in Phoenix seem to offer gluten free options. A lot of people here will choose this life style even if it is not forced upon them.

    • Nicole, that seems to be the par in the bigger cities. We are supposed to be a ‘bigger’ city, but I think Knoxville has us knocked out of that realm. Slowly, but surely, the restaurants around here are becoming more aware and realizing that there are quite a few people in this particular area that have diet restrictions.
      Thank you for your input 🙂 Much appreciated!

  4. jan says:

    My son has found several restaurants for himself , but he lives near San Francisco and I have no clue what they are. I see some menu items around but nothing serious around home.

  5. Kriti says:

    Hi Mary, its interesting to know that Outback Steakhouse has the option. I didn’t even know when I used to frequent the place. Thanks for the read!

    • You are so very welcome Kriti. We love Outback, but don’t get there very often, only due to finances these days 😛 Hopefully, we will see more and more restaurants offering gluten and allergy free menus in the future.

  6. sulekha says:

    It’s nice that people are becoming aware of these diet restrictions and are offering solutions for the same. Great informative article, Mary.

    • Sulekha, thank you. It is a great thing for the ones that have to live with this every day. Sometimes, you wish that food wasn’t such a big part of a person’s day. But, when you really look at food in perspective, it IS a big part of our day. Plain and simple, an average person spends a great deal of time ‘eating’ 🙂

  7. Mary I’m so glad to know that things are getting better with choices of food. Health foods are coming here too and anyway we’ve always had what are called Jain Meals – no onions/ garlic/ ginger. However, I do believe that the awareness levels in restaurants is still low…when we order in or go out we tell them to ease up on the salt and oil and of course no MSG in Chinese restaurants. However, we don’t always get what we want…still a long way to go…But I think we’ll get there.

    • The more I study food, cultures, and other countries I am amazed by the contrast. The differences in foods and choice of spices simply amaze me. At some point, I would love to venture into gluten and allergy free ethnic foods 🙂
      I agree with you about the speed in which changes are occurring. But, at least there are changes being made and that is a good thing. Eventually, I believe, we will see these changes across the map 🙂

  8. tbaoo says:

    even going out with my vegetarian bride posses some problems in finding decent food. i hope that the rise in gluten free and clearly itemised ingredients on menus continues to grow in popularity around the world – as it seems to be in australia 🙂

    • That is a good thing to know Tbaoo. Someday, my family would love to visit Australia and it is wonderful knowing that there are gluten free menus available. I would say that your bride has as much trouble as Michaela does, even though she’s not vegetarian, she eats a lot of vegetarian recipes 🙂

  9. Bongo says:

    We were just out at Applebees this past Wednesday and for the first time they have a Gluten free section..it’s not yet dairy free but maybe in time they will add dairy and allergy free..it’s a start and a pleasant surprise….as always…XOXOXOXO

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